Mar 012014

LCD Display for Raspberry Pi – the Foundation’s first steps

Gordon Hollingworth was hinting at a new interesting product being prepared for the Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg. We had the chance to see it at both the Farnell and the Toshiba booths.

The Raspberry Pi foundation has an interesting concept, as always:

Toshiba has a chip which converts the Raspberry Pi’s display port to a more generic parallel interface. The drivers – to program which you need to sign NDAs – have been developed by the Foundation, and are freely available.

The Foundation (according to Farnell, and Gordon H. ) will bring two displays to market during this year – a 7 ‘’ display with a low resolution, and a high-resolution 10’’ display. Both are supposed to have touch capabilities. These displays should be ready and in stock with Farnell in three to six months. I assume that RS Components will also stock them, as this is clearly a core extension for the Raspberry Pi.

Developers free to roll their own

Any other developer / entrepreneur, though, can basically source the Toshiba chip and interface it with a display of their choice – even before the Foundation will get to market with their displays.

Here are some pictures of this display:



This picture (click to enlarge) shows the Raspberry Pi foundation’s development board, along with a LCD display.


Picture showing the setup at the Toshiba booth.

There are two chips which are being demoed. Both carry unique business opportunities with them.

Toshiba HDMI to MIPI CSI2 bridge chip TC358743XBG

This chip (on the pcb developed by the Foundation) connects an Android PC, which plays a movie / runs a 3D rendering (teapot) over HDMI to the Raspberry Pi’s camera port, thus allowing the Raspberry Pi to capture HDMI input (also an idea which will open up many use cases – for instance pass-through recording and streaming of your favourite Playstation games!)

Toshiba MIPI DSI to DPI display chip TC358762XBG

This chip converts the Raspberry Pi’s Display Serial Interface (DSI) to a parallel interface (DPI). (“De-serializer display bridge for connectivity of panels using legacy parallel interface to the Baseband or Application Processors with MIPI® Display Serial Interface

read more about DSI on Wikipedia, and the TC358762XBG product brief.


NFC Board for the Raspi

This board has been on the market for a couple of weeks (maybe even months) already. pi3g actually won one sample board, courtesy of Farnell Smile 

NXP Technology provides the NFC chip used on this board. The board’s design is a bit unlucky (very big), and it won’t fit in many “normal” cases on the market, for instance the TEK-BERRY cases we use.

The guys from NXP assured me that it should be no problem to source the chip and alter the board’s design to a smaller board, though. The NFC antenna (which can be seen on the left in the following picture) can include other electronic components in the free space inside, and also components could go on the bottom of the board.


I see NFC as a very promising technology, and the Raspi is ready to be the first networked NFC reader under 100 € system cost.



Internet of Things

There are many companies and platforms being shown / developed / available for “Internet of Things” applications. These devices will have  a small custom applications processor, programmable, and with a small amount of RAM. They are then connected via WiFi to your home network, cloud solutions / or provide a built-in webhost for control via your smartphone / tablet.

A very important thing is the initial programming of your WiFi credentials into these devices. There are several solutions emerging. Apple is rolling their own (apple certified devices, which include a proprietary Apple chip, and just “show up” on your iOS devices – especially more present since iOS 7), but there is another interesting option available: BTE.

BTE is Bluetooth Low Energy, and basically is expressly built for such scenarios (of low-data transfer, low-power devices). BTE devices can be set up by the manufacturer to show up on any Smartphone (with built-in BTE – if you have Bluetooth 4.0 you have it), and be accessible without any code / authentication necessary.

You could now use an App to connect via BTE to the new device, set up your WiFi connection credentials, and once the WiFI connection works, and maybe a password is set, the BTE connection will be disabled alltogether. It would only be available again pressing a “factory reset” button.

I do not believe that the Raspberry Pi is a good platform for Internet of Things in mass-production / consumer devices. We need a smaller platform for these applications, with less processing resources, and lower power usage.

For enthusiasts, who want to experiment in this direction, and directly interface with the computer, the Pi is great, though!

Maybe we will build a “Internet of Things” platform on which you can develop your own application / this could also be a great idea to put on Kickstarter / … .



The highlight of the fair!

This is what Model C of the Raspberry Pi should be like, if it ever would be published. Technical specifications include:

  • ARM Cortex A9 MPCore Processor at 1 GhZ
  • HD video decoder
  • OpenGL ES 2.0 3D graphics accelerator, 2D accelerator
  • 1 GB DDR3 RAM
  • headphone / microphone (!) jack
  • LVDS, HDMI, Parallel RGB interface
  • four USB ports
  • barrel power connector (not micro USB)
  • 4 GB Flash on-board
  • GBit LAN port
  • GPIO connector

This board runs Android and Ubuntu Linux, at impressive speeds. Web browsing, PDF viewing is quite fluent with it.

The GBit port, and the four USB ports make it a good NAS / home cloud system base board. Further possible applications include Thin Clients, stand-alone web browsing stations, and build-your-own media centres. It should also run web applications more fluently than the Pi. With the built-in flash, you could even make do without an additional SD card.

All this very attractively priced, and available now through Farnell (and soon through us, maybe).

Have a look at the spec sheet. (PDF, 12 MB)

We are seriously considering adding this board to our portfolio as a high-end SBC solution, where the Raspberry Pi simply has insufficient compute power.

Here’s a photo:


Mar 122013

For our english-speaking readers:

Florian just managed to drive an LCD display via the GPIO port. He had to modify and compile a driver for that – our first step into kernelland. The display is attached to the general purpose pins, and driven in parallel mode. The main problem to solve was adressing the latch correctly – which he finally managed. Now the display works just like a regular display – it shows the boot process of the Raspberry, etc.

Florian also wrote a JAVA Test-Utility, which could probably be used in other display development projects as well.

We will be releasing the code for the test-utility and the kernel driver soon, after a couple of clean-ups. Please get in touch with us if you need it sooner.

The work has been built on similar work done and open sourced by a great guy who has realized a small arcade machine on the base of a Pi and a similar display. But without the latch, as far as I understand :-)

Have a look at this screenshot for some graphical output:



Jetzt auf Deutsch:

Florian hat es geschafft. Ein LCD Display was vom Raspberry Pi über den GPIO Port mit Daten versorgt wird!

Dafür war (natürlich) ein eigener Kernel-Treiber notwendig, den Florian angepasst hat. “Der Latch war das Problem” – aber Probleme sind dazu da um gelöst zu werden.

Hier ein Preview, den Treiber veröffentlichen wir bei entsprechendem Interesse demnächst:




Wenn man etwas weiter rausgeht schaut das ganze so aus (klick für Originalauflösung):




Realisiert wurde das ganze zunächst in JAVA, mit einer Testfunktion um Bilder direkt auf dem LCD Display anzeigen zu können. Auch diesen JAVA Testcode überlegen wir uns zu releasen, die Entscheidung liegt dann bei Florian.


Anbindung des Displays an das Raspberry Pi

Das Display wird über den GPIO Port angesteuert, und zwar über die GPIO Pins – wir nutzen kein SPI / I2C um das Display anzusteuern (Performancegründe, da parallel mehr Daten übertragen werden können -> Bildrefreshrate steigt).

Dieses Display hat auch Touch-Funktionalität, diese ist jedoch von uns noch nicht angesteuert worden.

Wie man auf dem Screenshot erkennt, läuft die Konsole (mit entsprechender Konfiguration des Kernels und Florians Treiber) direkt auf dem Display.


Thank you!

Florian hat seine Arbeit (Code & Hardware) auf dem Blogeintrag eines Raspberry Pi – Enthusiasten basiert, der damit eine kleine Spielekonsole auf einem ähnlichen Display realisiert hat. Dieses hatte aber kein Latch!


Stay tuned for more!




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